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Plasma or LCD: What's the Best TV for Gaming?

by Product Specialist

Plasma or LCD: What's the Best TV for Gaming?

Choosing The Right HDTV

For Your PS4 or Xbox One, Plasma, LED & OLED All Have Pros & Cons. We'll tell you what they are!

Video games have been around for a few decades now, and as our televisions seem to expand in size and technological capability, the gaming experience has also increased in enjoyment, excitement, and intensity. Gamers have managed to narrow down their television choices to two main types: plasma and LCD. This choice can be a very difficult one to make and in order to do so, we must take a look at several different factors that are offered by both televisions. By reviewing these features, you can make the choice that best fits your gaming needs. Following are five important aspects to take into consideration.


Plasma vs. LED

Unfortunately, the death knell has sounded for plasma TVs. Despite having a superior picture quality in several areas, manufacturer's have chosen to focus on thin and sleek LED & OLED TVs going forward. Despite this announcement, plasma TVs can still be found for sale. If you're trying to decide whether to buy a plasma or LED for your gaming needs, here are a few things to consider:

Picture Quality

Picture quality refers to the combination of color accuracy and playback speed. Plasma TVs hold a slight advantage in this category as their method of color production is far advanced, moving away from the traditional back-lighting method. In situations that require normal lighting, this results in brighter and more accurate colors. LCD models, on the other hand, bend light to produce color. In addition, plasma TVs have a better playback speed, whereas LCDs tend to have a slight lag when you are playing fast paced games.


Contrast is basically defined as the difference between the brightest and darkest colors that are displayed. Plasma models also have the edge here as they do not tend to fade like an LCD can. The newest models of LCD TVs are becoming competitive in this area, but you will be dishing out more money to get the same technology. If you normally play more horror, survival, or role-playing games that display darker scenes, then a plasma television will best fit your requirements.

Viewing Angle

Viewing Angles can affect the quality of the picture on your screen. This means that the color and picture of the TV can change depending upon where you are sitting. Plasma TVs offer a viewing range of about 160 degrees and LCDs offer a viewing range of about 90 degrees. As long as you sit anywhere in this area, the picture quality will be at its best. Although plasma televisions do offer a wider angle for viewing, both angles are sufficient for enjoying your gaming and viewing experiences.

Screen Burn

Screen Burn is a term used to describe when an image actually becomes burned into the television screen. This is more likely to occur if you leave a picture – such as a video game – paused on the TV for more than ten minutes. This is more of a problem with plasma televisions than with LCD TVs but both types have the potential for image retention. Plasma TVs now employ pixel shifting technology and other advancements to minimize the possibility of screen burn. Once an image has been etched into your screen, however, it cannot be removed and your television will not be working to its greatest potential. Colors and images may be distorted and inaccurate.


Cost is one of the most important factors to consider when purchasing a television for gaming. After all, you will be using your television for more than just playing video games. You will also want to watch your favorite weekly shows and sporting events. You should base your decision on all of these factors. As a rule, plasmas are less expensive, but this can vary depending upon where you opt to purchase your television. Larger chain stores often offer both types of TVs at comparative rates.


OLED TVs: The Best HDTV For Gaming?

With Plasma being phased out, many gamers are scrambling to find a TV technology offering similar benefits like high contrast, low screen lag and great viewing angles. New OLED TVs offer all of these features along with a thinner screen, significantly lighter weight and amazingly better energy efficiency. In addition, OLED HDTVs boast a faster refresh rate over plasma as well as zero screen burn. Future OLED televisions will likely have thin flexible screens and will be obtainable in sizes larger than are now available to consumers. So why isn’t everybody flocking to purchase a new OLED HDTV for their home? The biggest setback for this new technology is cost. These sets offer the best picture quality money can buy, but you’ll pay a premium for being an early adopter. Once prices drop, we’ll likely see these beautiful flat screen TVs in many more homes.


So, You've Decided To Go With LED . . .

Most gamers buying brand-new TVs will most likely purchase a LED TV as it's now the dominant TV technology on the market. This popular television uses a LCD screen that is illuminated from either the edge of the screen or behind the screen by LED lights. Because LED bulbs are very small and energy efficient, these TVs don’t use much electricity and tend to be very sleek and thin. Although all LED TVs have similarities, there are quite a few differences to consider before pulling the trigger on a new HDTV purchase:

Gaming Mode

The serious gamer will ensure the TV has a gaming mode before purchase. Cutting edge televisions heavily process incoming video signals to correct things like color, scaling, and resolution. All of this processing can take time, however, and results are a slight delay or “input lag” on the screen. For fast twitch games where milliseconds count, game mode will terminate these processes allowing for a smoother flow of the action. When game mode is activated, be sure to expect reduced color processing and accuracy, increased noise on the screen and overall reduced image performance. For fast paced games, the trade-off may be worth it.

Refresh Rate

Gaming fanatics should also be concerned about refresh rates on a new LED TV purchase. All LED HDTVs are capable of 60hz but more expensive screens may offer 120hz, 240hz and beyond. The number represents how many frames per second are shown on the screen. Lower numbers like 60hz usually means more motion judder or a less smooth picture on fast moving action. TVs with higher refresh rates will either add additional frames per second through frame interpolation, backlight flashing or black frame insertion to smooth out the picture. All of these methods work fairly well but the most significant improvement seems to happen when you step up to a 120hz screen. Manufacturers also tend to have branded terms like “Clear Motion Rate", "TruMotion", and “MotionFlow” that should not be confused with the actual refresh rate of the screen.

Curved Screen

Curved screen televisions are now more common in the high-end LED TV market. Despite the appeal of their curvy aesthetics, this design does serve a purpose for users. The curved screen is designed to immerse the viewer into whatever content is being watched up to an additional 4 percent. When seated directly in front of the screen in the “sweet-spot”, the effect is fantastic and viewers will likely feel more immersed in the game or movie being played. If seated off axis, however, the curved screen can sometimes be distracting as the closest edge to the viewer will appear larger. In addition, any straight lines on the screen, such as a menu box or ticker feed at the bottom of the screen, will appear slightly curved as well. On the plus side, reflections from room lights were minimized and contrast is much improved over older sets. If you can overlook off-axis seating, curved screen HDTVs are choice, especially because they also include all the best technology and cutting edge features.

4K Resolution

4K screens are amazing clear when playing from 4K source material. Unfortunately, no gaming consoles, TV networks or broadcasts are recording or playing back content in 4K yet except for Netflix. Because many cinematic movies are recorded in 4K UHD, however, special media servers are available for sale allowing users to download or rent select movie titles. For all other content, these cutting edge televisions will up-convert 1080p content to the native 4K resolution. Unless users are sitting very close to the screen, however, it’s unlikely any difference would be seen and the average gamer will be perfectly happy with a 1080p set. Because these high resolution TVs are becoming more common and pricing has dropped in the past year, you still may decide to buy one now to prepare your home for when Sony and Microsoft begin supporting 4K video on their consoles.


One of the reasons plasma televisions were a top choice for gaming was their unbeatable contrast ratio. This technology could reproduce a deep shade of black that was unmatched by any other technology. Unlike LCD & LED, plasma screens were not backlit so when black was required, the pixel simply turned off. To really make your video games pop, look for a display with incredible contrast. OLED HDTVs have a contrast ratio comparable to plasma and are the best choice for serious gamers, but these amazing sets are more expensive than most LED TVs and out of reach for many gamers. The contrast numbers sometimes lie, so be sure to visit your nearest store to view them in person, then go back to your house and order from us!

Edge Lit vs. Backlit

Because all LED TVs are lit from behind the screen, manufacturers have several choices where to locate light source. In an attempt to keep the panel as thin as possible, most LED bulbs are located around the edge of the panel and shine towards the middle of the screen. This method words fairly well, unless the picture on the TV is showing both bright and dark objects simultaneously. Black levels will be poor and often there is light leakage from the bright areas of the screen into the dark areas of the screen. Backlit TVs, on the other hand, have LED bulbs that are placed directly behind the LCD screen in a grid pattern. This usually makes the panel a bit thicker, but performance is vastly superior. Because the LED bulbs are placed behind the screen, any of the bulbs can be turned off or dimmed at any time. The result is certain sections of the screen can be very dark even while other sections of the screen can be lit. This is flexible dimming is referred to as local dimming and also helps improve overall contrast.

Quantum Dots (Nanocrystals)

Quantum dots have been around for decades but only recently have they been used in conjunction with LED TVs. Quantum dots are very tiny crystals (nanocrystals) that become luminous when light is shone on them. The color produced depends on the size of the nanocrystal, which can be very precisely controlled. TV manufactures are sandwiching nanocrystals that give off red and green light between the LED lighting and the LCD screen. Because quantum dot light is extremely pure, it can shine through the television screen with less wasted light resulting in better, more lifelike color. TVs with this advanced feature will be slightly more expensive but may be worth it for improved color and energy efficiency. Sony and LG have a few models available with this technology while Samsung offers this advanced feature in its entire SUHD TV line of televisions.

Matte vs. Glossy

For years, all LED screens had a matte finish and were very good at absorbing and diffusing reflected light. This was fantastic for rooms with lots of windows or plenty of bright lights. Although matte screens were great at minimizing reflected light, contrast levels were adversely affected and black screens appeared to be dark gray instead of pitch black. Most LED HDTVs on the market now have glossy screens in an effort to preserve black levels by focusing reflected light instead of diffusing it. If you have a very bright room and cannot find a good matte screen HDTV, you may try hanging your flat screen TV on a full motion mounting bracket to reduce glare. Tilting the screen a few degrees up or down should be sufficient to eliminate glare from lights or windows, even in the most challenging.

Screen Size

Bigger is always better. With newer 4K TVs and high res sources, the only limit to your TV size is your wall size and your budget. HDTV prices have dropped significantly in the past few years so it’s easy to get more screen for the dollar. Gamers will need to balance the need for whiz-bang features vs. screen size, but most games will benefit from a larger television set.


PlayStation Now™ streaming

PlayStation fans may be excited to discover that select Sony Bravia and Samsung smart televisions are able to stream hundreds of PS3 and PS4 games directly to their TV without a gaming console. Users must have a broadband connection, a Sony Entertainment Network Account, DUALSHOCK 4 controller and a PlayStation Now subscription. Combined with a compatible TV set, users can enjoy a wide variety of games in their home without a console present. Serious gamers may still prefer having a PS4 in their home as performance, screen lag and resolution can sometimes suffer based on broadband speeds.


Virtual Reality

The next logical step in immersive gaming is virtual reality (VR). There are currently three main companies working on promising consumer-grade products: Oculus Rift, HTC partnered with Valve's Steam VR platform and the Sony Morpheus. Recently, it was announced Microsoft, Facebook and Oculus Rift have combined to bring a VR gaming system to market during the first quarter of 2016. The headset will work with windows 10 or Xbox One and will come with an Xbox One controller. With the advertising muscle of Facebook and Microsoft firmly behind it, Oculus Rift may have a distinct advantage over the competition in ensuring their product becomes a commercial success. If virtual reality does become widespread, it likely won’t matter which TV is best for gaming as we’ll all be wearing VR goggles in the near future.

Check out the more than 6,000 electronic products available at OneCall, including both plasma and LCD televisions. We offer competitive rates on both as well as exceptional customer service and superior knowledge. Ultimately, the choice is up to you, but we are here to help you make the right decision between these two great television types so that you can have the best gaming experience at the best price.